Communities in Schools has examined the reasons why San Antonio students drop out of school, and it's not what you think.
1200 WOAI news reports the main reasons include hunger, a chaotic home life, and lack of medical care, all contributing factors to poverty.
"The biggest issue that we see is a culture of poverty," CIS Executive Director Rufus Samkin said. "There are households which are operating below the federal poverty line.
Dropping out of secondary school is the single biggest indicator of future poverty. Students who drop out are far more likely to suffer poor health, be dependent on social services, enter the criminal justice system, and cost working and productive taxpayers billions of dollars a year in lost revenue and government assistance programs.
Communities in Schools says the best way to reverse those numbers is to become active in the lives of some 7,000 students in 73 schools considered to be the most vulnerable.
Samkin says one thing they have in common is a less than stable and supportive home environment, if they have a home at all.
"We say that we have a student dropout crisis, but what I think we should be saying is, do we have a parent drop out crisis?"
Samkin says San Antonio is one of three cities nationwide where Academy Award winning director Errol Morris videos will be presented to show the sometimes surprising reasons why students drop out of school.
Samkin says the student at the most risk of dropping out generally are first or second generation Americans who simply cannot grasp the connection between school, and especially the prospect of going to college, as is pushed so frequently today. He says that is a bad way of keeping students in school.
"It's not enough to tell them that they are going to go to college, because for a lot of these kids, they just don't have a frame of reference," Samkin said.
For many students in poverty, experts say the bogus world of pop culture, where drug dealers, criminals, and rappers are seen as the most successful people in a neighborhood plays into that distorted worldview where hard work and education are seen as 'sucker bets,' that don't get people anywhere.
Samkin says the best way to show kids how wrong that world view is is to present people who have grown up in their neighborhoods, often from their same background, who have become traditionally successful.
He says among the role models being shown to at risk kids this semester are San Antonio City Councilman and Stanford University grad Rey Saldana, and Robert LeBlanc, a Senior Electronics Engineer for the U.S. Air Force who has been a communities in Schools mentor for 17 years.